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Journalism: considered and responsible

The role of the media in shaping society shouldn’t be underestimated — especially during a major election campaign
American publicist George Prentice speaks of the paradox of our modern times, where even whitewashing is done with the help of ink, through mudslinging. The role of the media in shaping society shouldn’t be underestimated — especially during a major election campaign. Transforming the media into a noble weapon is a task we must aspire to, as the Belarusian Union of Journalists agrees.

At Belarusian Union of Journalists’ Secretariat session

An unscheduled session of its secretariat has involved many participants and slightly resembled a training seminar. The Central Election Commission has adopted a provision on the role of the media during the Presidential election campaign. For instance, the Commission’s Chair, Lidia Yermoshina, stresses that several leading newspapers must publish candidates’ pre-election programmes free of charge. She explains, “Newspapers may publish related materials on a commercial basis and the editorial boards of these editions may have their own reasons to refuse publishing programmes. For example, an editorial board may have no intention of publishing political advertising or ideas (proclaimed by the programme) which don’t meet the edition’s policy.”

Programmes which directly contradict the law are forbidden from publication anywhere: those calling for extremism or inspiring international or religious conflicts. In addition, programmes promoting boycott are prohibited — as envisaged by the Election Code. However, the printed media remains the country’s most open and dynamic information space. According to Belarus’ Information Minister, Lilia Ananich, it ensures wide and multi-sided coverage of the election campaign. The Belarusian Union of Journalists is to assess these actions and ask the media to meet acknowledged norms of journalistic behaviour: professional honour, and a sense of conscience and ethics. Moreover, the Union plans to monitor the media in this respect. British poet and social commentator Matthew Arnold once said, “Journalism is literature on the run.” Truly, journalists are required to produce their work ‘at speed’ but this doesn’t mean that their standards need to be compromised.

By Maxim Osipiov

Photo: Vitaly Pivovarchik
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